SUMMARY: Donald Duck goes to a penny arcade where he finds that the ‘good time for a dime’ that is promised is harder to come by than you might expect.
WHY IT’S HERE: ‘A Good Time for a Dime’ is a delightful little short that gives us a nostalgic glimpse into the world of the penny arcade. But it is also further proof that Donald Duck was a strong enough character to support a whole seven minute cartoon entirely solo. Unlike Mickey, who needed the action packed stories or myriad co-stars to bring out the best in him, Donald’s mix of boyish excitement and explosive frustration makes him entertaining enough alone. In fact, Donald was often funniest when he was being wound up by trivial little trials of life, rather than by a living, breathing heckler. Though Donald’s encounters with a crane machine and an airplane ride are both inspired, perhaps the most striking moment in the short is the opening gag in which he tries to watch a risqué peepshow of the Dance of the Seven Veils. This kind of lascivious sexual content (Donald’s shadow morphs into the devil as he droolingly looks on), though occasionally present in earlier shorts, was rarer in Disney cartoons of this era but it works with Donald’s feint whiff of the frustrated adolescent. This angle was taken to alarming lengths in the underrated Disney headtrip of a feature ‘The Three Caballeros’, in which Donald is positively sex crazed and pursues a range of human women with aggressive persistence.